Against the background sketched out in the preceding articles, the exegetical alternatives in Galatians 2.11-18 become clearer.
The leading questions can be posed thus:
Answer for yourself: What did the table-fellowship at Antioch involve prior to the coming of the men from James?
Answer for yourself: And what would have been required of Gentile believers if the table-fellowship was to be resumed after the initial disruption caused by the withdrawal of Peter and the others?
Answer for yourself: To put it another way, what was it that the men from James objected to or found fault with in the table-fellowship at Antioch?
Answer for yourself: And how could that defect be remedied, if at all?
Answer for yourself: What in your practice of your faith would the Ambassadors of the Jerusalem Church find objectionable or find fault with and what bearing does this hold concerning your acceptance into the Church of Yeshua?
By now you should be able to answer many of these questions.
Understand again that there is a big difference being accepted in the Church of Yeshua as it existed in Jerusalem in the First Century C.E. and a Baptist, Catholic, or Methodist Church today. Think on these things.
The exegetical alternatives focus particularly on the key phrases of Paul's challenge, "'If you, a Jew live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to judaize?" We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners ...' (Gal. 2. 14-1 5).85
Answer for yourself: 'To live like a Gentile' must exclude any detailed observance of the law; but need it exclude a more limited observance, such as many Gentiles attracted by Judaism obviously maintained? In the previous article you saw for yourself the attractiveness of Judaism to the non-Jewish world and the non-Jewish believers. Gentile Christianity today surely will discount this.
In particular, since the Noahide Laws were thought by many Jews to apply to all mankind, we cannot exclude the possibility that the antithesis here is the antithesis between what we may call a Noahide life-style and a Sinaitic life-style, the one being characteristic of God-fearing Gentiles, the other of loyal Jews. At least this is the attitude of S. Schechter in his Aspects of Rabbinic Theology (1909; New York: Schocken , 1961) 206-207 as well as men like E.P. Sanders in his Paul, 210-211. Based upon my research I believe these men have hit the nail on the head in laying before their readers the very heart of the matter at hand.
The one instance from our other sources which might shed some light comes from Eusebius, where he describes Symmachus as an Ebionite, that is, as one who strongly maintained 'that the law ought to be kept in a more strictly Jewish fashion' (Ecclesiastical History, 6.17). What "a more strictly Jewish fashion" means is presumably indicated by Eusebius' earlier description of the Ebionites as those who "insisted on the complete observation of the law", and who "were zealous to insist on the literal observance of the law" (Ecclesiastical History, 3.27.2, 3). This simply serves to confirm that "to live in a Jewish fashion" was a relative term and did not imply a pattern of behavior precisely defined or widely agreed among Jews.
Answer for yourself: What was it that Paul accused Peter of requiring from the Gentile believers?
In the LXX of Esther we read that 'many of the Gentiles were circumcised and judaized for fear of the Jews' (8.17 LXX). So also Theodotus: Jacob would not give Dinah to the son of Hamor "until all the inhabitants of Shechem were circumcised and judaized)" (Eusebius, Praep. Evang, 9.22.5). In Josephus we read a similar characterization of one Metilius, the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem, who "saved his life by entreaties and promises to judaize and even to be circumcised" (Jewish War, 2.17.10 §454). In each instance 'judaizing' is obviously not the same as being circumcised: it denotes rather the range of possible degrees of assimilation to Jewish customs (Jewish customs are only expressions of Biblical Commandments observed), with circumcision as the end-point of judaizing; but evidently one could 'judaize' without going the whole way (circumcision). It must therefore describe that range of conduct covered by the term God-fearer (or within Palestine also the term 'resident alien') and signify an embracing of much that characterized the Jewish way of life, enough at any rate for the judaizing individual to be acceptable to devout Jews.
Answer for yourself: You have to ask yourself if you as a Christian embrace enough of the Jewish way of life, as understood as a life-style of Biblical observed commandments, to be acceptable to devout Jews and be included in the Israel of God? If not, after all this evidence presented I would think I would seriously rethink my relationship with God and what Covenant I have along with its Covenant stipulations and requirements.
Still more interesting is the passage a little later in The Jewish War, not least because it describes the situation in Syria in the mid-60s - "The whole of Syria was a scene of frightful disorder; every city was divided into two camps, and the safety of one party lay in their anticipating the other ... For, though believing that they had rid themselves of the Jews, still each city had its Judaizers, who aroused suspicion; and while they shrank from killing offhand this equivocal element in their midst, they feared these neutrals much as pronounced aliens. (Jewish War, 2.18.2 §§462-3)
Here we have confirmation that a considerable number of Gentiles in Syrian cities (including of course Antioch) were attracted sufficiently to Judaism as to have identified or associated them-selves in some marked degree with it. Moreover, these Gentiles are further described as 'those who had become mixed up with the Jews', and which elsewhere in such a context denotes social intercourse including guest friendship, living with, and sexual intercourse. This strongly suggests a degree of affiliation to Judaism which made possible a high level of social intercourse between Jew and Gentile, including not least unrestricted table -fellowship. Moreover, when taken together with Josephus' testimony in Jewish War, 7.3.3 §45, it clearly implies that the Jewish community at Antioch in the 50s and early 60s had attracted large numbers of Gentiles and that many of these Gentiles were sufficiently ready to conform to Jewish practices as to make possible regular social intercourse including at least guest friendship and table-fellowship. But understand those which did not share such sentiments were problematic for the men from James and would literally cause the forthcoming Acts 15 Council to settle the problems.
A sinner is determined as such precisely by his relation to the law. 'Sinner' was becoming more and more a technical term for someone who either broke the law or did not know the law - the two criticisms of course often amounting to the same thing.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
If we look up the word for "iniquity" in the Greek along with its root word you will be amazed:
The Strong's # for iniquity is #458 anomia:
I have spent considerable time trying to reach you with the truths long overlooked by Gentile Christianity. Yeshua definitely said that he will not "know" certain people (the term in Greek means sexual intercourse and applies to the Marriage Supper where Groom Messiah and Bride (believers) become one flesh). Besides this he said that the reason that these will be rejected as "foolish virgins" is that they practice "iniquity". I know you think that such a condition cannot refer to you let alone the typical Christian. But that is exactly to whom it refers; especially the Gentile Christian! Let me show you.
To those whom Yeshua tells to depart and to whom will not be allowed to become one flesh with Messiah are those who, by definition, are "without the law". In Antioch Paul had been leading a Church which had laid aside their personal requirements in many areas of the "Law". Many of Paul's followers were "ignorant" of such Laws in the Covenant of Noah because they had not been taught by their spiritual leaders. So what else is new today? Mainline Gentile Christianity is totally ignorant for the most part of the Laws of Noah and the Covenant of Noah. Being ignorant of these Laws assures you that most likely you are not observing and obeying many of them; thus you are violating them and don't even know you are. I assure you that you will find out when you die. But even more so being a traditional Pauline Christian you have grown up in church with a "contempt" for the Law as Pauline theology had been taught to you more than the faith of Yeshua. I have taken great pains to show you that other like you had been deceived by Paul in Antioch and sternly rebuked by the men from James because of it. As if that was not enough such a condition of ignorance of the Laws of Noah by the Christian today is called "wickedness" and you surely understand this since these same Laws were once considered "necessary" and were said to have "seemed good to the Holy Spirit". They still do!
Answer for yourself: I wonder if the Holy Spirit considers Paul's contradictions to these Laws which God considers "good" and "necessary"?
Now the facts: The root word for "iniquity" in the Greek is Strong's # 459 anomos (an'-om-os); from 1 (as a negative particle) and 3551; lawless, i.e. (negatively) not subject to (the Jewish) law; (by implication, a Gentile), or (positively) wicked: KJV-- without law, lawless, transgressor, unlawful, wicked.
Answer for yourself: Did you notice that Yeshua' implication was for Gentiles especially; Gentiles who are ignorant and disobedient and violate and have contempt for Law; in this instance the Laws of Noah, which are the laws defining their Covenant (besides many of these are reiterated in the Laws of Moses)?
Answer for yourself: Dear one have you not seen that this was the problem with Paul at Antioch and that his theology has literally infected the hearts and minds of good non-Jews yet today who pride themselves not "being under the Law but under grace"?
Thus already in the LXX of the Psalms the link between 'sinner' and 'lawlessness' is well established (Ps. 27.3; 54.3; 91.7; 100.8; 124.3; 128.3 - LXX); the sinner is defined as one who forsakes the law, who does not seek God's statutes (Ps. 118.53, 155 - LXX). And in 1 Maccabees 'sinners' and 'lawless men' are parallel terms (1 Macc. 1.34; 2.44).
More striking is the way in which 'sinner' becomes synonymous with 'Gentile' - already in Psalm 9.17, and again in 1 Maccabees 2.48; also Psalms of Solomon 1.1; 2.1-2 (cf. Tob. 13.8; Jub. 23.23-4; 4 Ezra 4.23). It was evidently a well -established usage by the time of the first Christians: 'sinners' and 'Gentiles' stand as variant versions of the same Q saying (Luke 6.33- 'even sinners do the same'; Matt. 5.47 - 'even Gentiles do the same'); and the same equivalence is probably implied in the saying of Yeshua, 'the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners' (Mark 14.41//Matt.26.45; Luke 24.7), as the parallel with Mark 10.33 also suggests. Gentiles are 'sinners' by reason of the fact that they do not have the law and are disqualified by the law from covenant righteousness (cf. Clementine Homilies 11.16).
Still more striking for us is the evidence of how the word was used in relation to Yeshua's ministry, as a description of those within Israel whose way of life should have debarred them from the table -fellowship of the devout Jew. It applied not just to those who had abused the written Torah (Luke 7.37, 39 - a prostitute?; cf. Matt 21.32), but to tax collectors (Luke 19.7; cf. Matt. 5.46 with Luke 6.32), and it would seem also to other trades which put the practitioner beyond the pale of what was deemed acceptable (Mark 2.15-17; Matt. 11.19; Luke 7.34; Luke 15.1-2).
Here we are evidently once again back in an area where the limits of acceptability were being determined by the multiplying halakoth of the Pharisaic rabbis. That is to say, not just disobedience to the Torah but disregard for the rabbinic rulings on what obedience to the Torah entailed, that was what showed a person to be a sinner. This has become more explicit in the Mishnah: a sinner (rasa) is one who treats halakic rulings lightly (m. Edayyot 5.6; m. Abot 4.7; 5.14).
Given that so much of the Pharisaic teaching of our period was concerned with the limits of acceptable table fellowship, and given that the context of Galatians 2.15 is a dispute precisely about whether and under what circumstances a devout Jew could have table-fellowship with Gentiles, the presumption becomes compellingly strong that "sinners" in verse 15 belongs to the same range of usage.
And it had the connotation of 'unclean' (= Gentile = sinner), one who by his very race was legally disqualified from participating in the table-fellowship of a faithful Jew: 'How could you Peter, a true-born Jew, have table--fellowship with a Gentile sinner?'
The men from James came with the authority of the Jerusalem Church and found fault at table-fellowship with the non-Jews and Peter, Barnabas, and Paul because "necessary" Commandments were being violated under the authority of Paul at Antioch.
In reality the Acts 15 Council was called to do only two things:
Rom 2:16 16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel. (KJV)
Rom 16:25 25 Now to him that is of power to establish you according to my gospel.
Answer for yourself: Forgive me but was not Paul supposed to be teaching Jesus' Gospel?
Those who follow Pauline Christianity instead of the faith of Yeshua still are breaking many of their Covenant responsibilities and stipulations today in the Christian Church. We must no longer follow Pauline Christianity over the "Christianity of Yeshua". Dear one, the Gospel of Paul is not the Gospel of Yeshua. They clash and conflict. And table-fellowship is only where it starts as it can be shown that Paul's Gospel contradicts the teachings of Jesus and his religious belief system in numerous places; even in serious matters like atonement and redemption! You may have never noticed this in reading the New Testament, but your failure to discern this does not mean it does not exist! Truly, these two "Gospels" oppose each other in basic tenants. It is to these very issues and the need of repentance in these areas where me must now consider if we expect to be held in good standing within the "true" Church of Yeshua.
Shalom and blessings.